A single entry in a logbook has led to another Spitfire pilot being added to the ranks of the Few, the men who fought the Battle of Britain in 1940.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, which cares for trhe Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, has welcomed the news that Sergeant James Eric William Ballard of No 610 (County of Chester) Squadron has been posthumously added to the list, 80 years after the aerial fighting that lifted the threat of a German invasion.
It follows the discovery of his logbook, which shows an operational sortie flown on 8 October 1940, a flight that was confirmed by the signaturesof his commanding officer and flight commander.
As the Battle of Britain is considered to have taken place between 10 July and 31 October 1940, the Air Historical Branch of the RAF has concluded that Sgt Ballard, known as “Eric” or “Bill”, meets the criteria to be awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp to the 1939-45 Star.
Sgt Ballard continued to serve with the squadron and was killed in action, aged 23, on 27 August 1941 during an operation over the Continent. His body was not found and his name appears on the Air Forces Runnymede memorial overlooking the River Thames in Surrey. After the war ended, Sgt Ballard’s mother was recorded as living in Tooting, South London.
Group Captain Patrick Tootal, OBE, Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, said: “The research goes on and even 80 years later we learn new things about the Battle of Britain.
“It is rare to be able to add a new name to the list of those who took part, especially a Spitfire pilot. Sergeant Ballard’s contribution to the Battle was relatively small but without him and men like him the RAF could not have achieved its victory.
“Such was the desperate need then for fighter pilots that Sergeant Ballard had only nine hours of flying time before joining his squadron.”